Alonso: Nico played bowling a little bit with us

Alonso: Nico played bowling a little bit with us

Fernando Alonso
photo: Steven Tee/McLaren

McLaren had a difficult Belgian Grand prix for the whole team, as Fernando Alonso retired after a dramatic first-lap incident and Stoffel Vandoorne finished his home race in 15th position. At the start, Alonso was hit from behind by a late-braking Nico Hulkenberg who had locked his wheels. The Spaniard’s car launched into the air over the top of Charles Leclerc, but thankfully all three drivers were unhurt.

“I’m disappointed. We made a good start. There were a couple of possibilities of overtaking in Turn One – you play it cautious, you brake at the same point, then you look in the mirrors and see the guys behind you behaving as if this was the last corner of the championship”, Alonso explained.

“I saw Nico in the mirrors coming with all four wheels locked, at a very high speed. He completely missed the braking point by a long way, not just a couple of metres. There was no way I could avoid that, then I felt the impact and flew over Charles’ car. Nico played bowling a little bit with us.”

“It’s sad to see this happening because usually, these kinds of accidents have major consequences, but on the positive side, everyone involved is fine, especially Charles, as I flew over his car. Not that we needed any proof, but the halo showed again it is a very good thing to have on the car.”

Hulkenberg thought it was a misjudgement on his side that led to the incident

“When I hit the brakes, it locked up the front wheels and I slid. These cars are aerodynamically sensitive, especially with cars bunching up ahead as you lose a lot of grip and load. I have to admit it caught me by surprise. It was probably a misjudgement from my side as I was a bit late on the brakes, so it’s frustrating for me, the team, and the other drivers caught up in the incident. That’s racing and unfortunately, these things happen. We have Monza next weekend, so I want to get this out of the system as soon as possible and focus on that”, the Renault driver said.

He got a 10 place penalty for the starting grid in Italy. The stewards pointed out that “the driver of car 27 stated that he completely misjudged the situation and freely admitted it was his mistake.”